Almost-Hugo Review: Dog’s Body by Sarah A. Hoyt

“Almost-Hugo Review”? What’s that? If you’re not familiar with the minutiae of the Hugo rules, there’s an odd rule that makes no sense to me. When tallying up the nominations, ordinarily the top five counts for a particular category end up on the final ballot. Except if a story has less than 5% of the total vote. What’s the purpose of that? I don’t know. The percentages for individual stories are going to tend to be lower if there are more voters and if there are more stories that people felt moved by. More voters is good–this year there were almost twice the previous record of voters for a variety of reasons. More stories moving people is good. So… why does that mean we get less Hugo nominees? No sense whatsoever.

Hugo Novel Review (Part 2): Neptune’s Brood by Charles Stross

This is a continuation of the partial review of Neptune’s Brood I posted in July. As I said in that review, the book took a while to hook me on the plot, but got me early with the interesting worldbuilding involving posthuman android bodies with transmittable, transferrable minds. The protagonist, Krina-Alizond-114 is a historian of accountacy practices, specializing in the history of FTL scams. FTL travel has never been invented in this universe, but neither has anyone proven that it’s impossible, so every once in a while someone claims to have found the secret and seeks to collect tons of money from fraud. As the book starts, Krina is en route to the water planet Shin-Tethys to find out what happened to her missing sister.

“The Original Blue Fairy is a Cruel Monster” or “My Review of The Adventures of Pinocchio”

I was working on a story loosely inspired by Pinocchio, and so to understand my source material as completely as possible, I wanted to read the original for a basis of comparison. I was quite surprised by what I found there. In particular, the character that Disney based their Blue Fairy character on.

Picking Apart “The Cold Equations”

The story takes place on an emergency dispatch ship headed for a colony planet with a load of desparately needed medical supplies. Our protagonist finds a stowaway on board his ship, a teenage girl who has done this to visit her brother on the colony planet. This is a major problem because these runs are planned with just enough fuel to safely reach their destination. She thought that she would only get fined for sneaking on, but punishment for stowing away is death, to be sucked out of the airlock. It’s apparently meant to be a commentary on the coldness of reasoning that would be necessary for space travel. And that’s an interesting topic, but in my opinion the premise has so many monumental flaws that it falls apart on the least inspection. I had heard the general premise before and was expecting to feel for the story, but when I listened to the particulars I was so frustrated that this situation could exist, and that the people in this situation are so incredibly stupid, that I just couldn’t buy into it, emotionally or intellectually.

Book Review: Speaker for the Dead

Speaker for the Dead is the sequel to Ender’s Game. Ender’s Game was first a short story and then was expanded to a novel, and just last year was made into a movie. I reviewed the novel and the movie in a previous article. As usual I will try to avoid spoilers for the story being reviewed, but I’m not even going to try to avoid spoilers for Ender’s Game, so if you don’t want to find out some of what happens in that book then go read it and come back.

Anime Review: Brynhildr in the Darkness

Brynhildr in the Darkness tried very hard to make me stop watching it, probably more so than any other series I can think of in recent years. On the one hand it has a smart and likeable main character who manages to pull off being a high school student protagonist without coming off as unrealistic wish fulfillment. Ryota is definitely not that powerful and works within the limitations of being an ordinary human caught up protecting artificial witches from the secret organization that created them.

Anime Review: The World is Still Beautiful

worldisstillbeautifulwritten by Laurie Tom

The World is Still Beautiful is based off an ongoing shoujo (girls) manga of the same name. Teenage Princess Nike comes from the small and relatively powerless Duchy of Rain, and in recent years a furious warlord known as the Sun King has conquered most of the known world. In exchange for leaving the Duchy of Rain alone, he asks for one of their princesses to be sent to him as a bride.

Hugo Novel Review (Partial): Neptune’s Brood by Charles Stross

Neptune'sBroodThis is the first year that I’ve actually managed to read all of the nominees in the Hugo novel category, at least a portion of each. Charles Stross’s Neptune’s Brood is the last of the batch, and I only got my hands on it mid-July when I borrowed it from a friend–the publishers decided not to put it in the Hugo packet, and neither Stross nor Penguin were interested in providing a review copy so I had been intending to just skip the book until the opportunity to borrow it came up. I haven’t finished reading the whole book yet. I’m at about page 150 of 340. But the Hugo deadline is tomorrow and this is the last posting slot I have before the deadline, so if I want to share my review before the deadline it’s got to be a partial. You can consider this part 1 of the review; I’ll write up the rest when I’ve finished the book.

My Hugo Ballot 2014

The voting deadline for the Hugo Awards is tomorrow, July 31st, and I’ve read as much of the Hugo content as I’m going to have time for. So, the time has come for me to cast my ballot and put awards aside until next year. As I’ve done the last couple years, I’ve publicly shared what my ballot is going to look like, as kind of a final section of my Hugo review that is kind of an overarching look at what I thought of the categories. I didn’t read work in all the categories, so I’ve abstained from voting in those that I had no familiarity with and left them off the ballot.